Today I am participating in Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop by answering the prompt: 1.) Your childhood neighborhood.
I moved a lot as a child so in reality I don’t have one childhood neighborhood, but I do identify with one neighborhood in particular, Stonebridge, in Hazel Crest, Illinois. We moved there from Chicago the summer that I turned 10.
It was a big move. We lived in an older home in Chicago in a more established neighborhood, but Stonebridge was in the suburbs; everything was new and shiny – including our house and all the furniture in it. There was an attached garage, family room, den, separate dining and living rooms, a huge eat-in kitchen, swanky new appliances, an office for my dad and a big back yard, perfect for my new puppy.
It looked like a neighborhood on television. The houses weren’t cookie cutter, but there were only about 6 variations. They were laid out differently, painted different colors and tweaked a little here and there, but it looked like a cohesive neighborhood. All the lawns were green and freshly mowed. Our parents belonged to the Stonebridge Neighborhood Association, which I supposed made sure that residents took care of their property, but really I think that it was just an excuse to drink and play cards together.
My family can’t remember the house number, but I found the street on Google Maps. Then I “walked” down the street and found my old house! I love Google Maps! Wow, the house and neighborhood still look great.
It was a neighborhood full of kids and I had many friends. I lived there for only 3 years before moving to Minnesota, but I made some great memories. Here are a few:
The park. It was really a huge retention basin. If someone pushed you, you would roll all the way down to the bottom–which made it perfect for both your enemies and for sledding.
Chasing my dog (who frequently escaped from the backyard) around the neighborhood with my friends. He always ended up in the creek, a muddy mess.
Bathing said muddy dog.
The library. It was small–I swear that I read every book in the kids’ section at least twice–but I loved it.
Riding my bike through a construction site and down the sides of giant dirt holes. The mother that I am now is chastising my kid self, “Don’t you know that you have been buried alive in one of those dirt holes, girl!”
Walking to Pottawatomie Hills Elementary School. In the cold. Uphill. Both ways. I lived 5 houses away from the bus stop, but within the school district’s parameters of “too close to ride the bus.” I don’t know how many miles it was, but it was hella far (that’s a true measurement of distance, anyone will tell you). On very cold days, my friend’s mom drove us to school in her fire-engine red station wagon.
My favorite teacher at Pottawatomie Hills Elementary School, Mrs. Bloom.
Recess at Pottawatomie. For my friends and I, Four Square was our game and it was serious business; we played for blood and took no prisoners. When we weren’t knocking out fools in Four Square, we took over the Merry Go-Round and wouldn’t let other kids on unless they paid us in candy. We called it “The Church of Savior”, shouting it as we spun round and round. We were small, yet charming; that is the only explanation to why kids gave us candy and didn’t just knock us off the Merry Go-Round.
Riding my bike to Baskin-Robbins. I always got 1 scoop of Chocolate Chip and 1 scoop of Daiquiri Ice. It sounds strange, but trust me, they taste good together. Then my friends and I would crash our bikes on the way home because “we had too many daiquiris.”
Halloween. The neighborhood association made sure that we were safe while having fun. Every few houses there was an open, decorated garage with doughnuts and hot cider. Presumably the stop was for these goodies, but in reality it was to check our candy for tampering.
Sleepovers with my best friends. Making our famous popcorn (Jiffy Pop mixed with whatever candy and other snacks we had lying around), practicing the latest dance moves and falling asleep to Saturday Night Live.
Group outings to Pizza Hut. In retrospect I feel so bad for whoever waited on us: a gang of 12-year-olds, sharing a small pizza and leaving $1 tip, if any, most likely covered in parmesan cheese.
I am still good friends with some of my Stonebridge friends, and on Facebook, I am finding old friends all the time. We all still love Stonebridge and feel such a strong connection to it and each other that we are organizing a family reunion of sorts, getting the old neighborhood back together again. I’m excited to see everyone and excited to show my kids a part of my past–a seemingly small part measured by conventional time, just a mere 3 years–but a very large part of me.
I remember you took me rollerskating for the first time, and when I got gum caught in my hair…and when I took my first shower alone instead of a bath at the ripe old age of 5 LOL!
Hazel Crest…good times!
Yes Adrienne, when I think of my time in Hazel Crest, I think of your visits. You were like our little mascot. I have a photo of you and Beverly at my Jr. High…you came to school with me on the last day. You have on my cowboy hat LOL!
Wow, I want to move my kids to that hood. Nice to know that you were originally from Chitown! 🙂
I agree with you that Stonebridge was a lot of fun and memories that will never go away. I still remember the many hours you and your friends spent at our house as well as all the homes in the neighborhood. We had a very close neighborhood, both parents and kids. I am happy this was a part of your childhood and continued into your adulthood. You are correct; we were checking to see if the candy hadbeen tampered with. Even though we knew it had not been, since it was only the neighborhood parents that had given it to you. What you did not know is that we had all agreed on what should be given at our assoc. meeting. I know the reunion will be fun…
That sounds like a really great place to grow up. I wish kids could still live in neighborhoods like that.
I have never heard of a neighborhood reunion, it sounds like it’s going to be fun. Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories of Stonebridge
The reunion is taking on a life of it’s own! Now it’s extending past our neighborhood to include others nearby. It should be fun!
Hey there found you on Mama Kat’s:) Your neighborhood sounds picture perfect! I grew up in NJ and my house was like 100 years old. We lived near NY and there was always a funky stench in the air:) I loved it, I was a kid I loved everything. I am now here outside of Atlanta. I miss home but my kids love it here:) Love your blog:)
I lived in Montclair for 8 years, before moving to Atlanta and I miss it so much! That is a great town and felt very “neighborhoody”
Sounds like you had a wonderful childhood. We lived too far out in the country to have a “neighborhood”.
Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I love your post! Obviously we have great taste since we choose the same prompt. I can relate to so many of your memories. I too had to walk to school because of those same “bus guidelines”. What a joke! My favorite Baskin Robbins flavor is Chocolate with peanut butter. Can’t wait to read more.
I hate that here in Atlanta the Baskin-Robbins are not free-standing…they are connected to Dunkin’ Donuts. Kind of ruins it for me.
Sounds like a WONDERFUL neighborhood. What great memories.
I had to laugh about the pizza and tipping. Here in NJ, for my friends and I, it was going to the diner but the scenario was pretty much the same.
Visiting from mama kat.
Have a great day! 🙂
I am sure that all waiters dread when a group of kids walk in the door and sit at their table; they know that they are going to clean up a big mess and get stiffed on the tip!